By Bruce McLucas, MD, Fibroid Treatment Collective
Fibroid tumors are benign growths within the uterus. They affect 40 percent of women over the age of 40, and cause problems for countless younger women who wish to have a family.
Fibroids can cause the uterus to change shape, which can decrease fertility. The main problems caused by fibroids are miscarriage, loss of pregnancy, premature delivery, increased chance of cesarean section and bleeding after delivery. In addition, fibroids may cause separation of the placenta from the uterus, with the possibility of death of the fetus. Usually, we do not advise our patients to attempt pregnancy until they have undergone treatment for their fibroid problems.
There are risks to any procedure, but embolization might be the best for young women who want to conceive.
Two options are available for women with fibroids who wish to become pregnant. Myomectomy, which is the removal of the fibroid tumors leaving the uterus, and Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE), a new minimally invasive out patient procedure which shrinks fibroids without surgery.
Aside from a risk of blood transfusion and adhesion formation with myomectomy, young patients have a 50 percent risk of new fibroids forming, requiring a second surgery. After myomectomy, women will have to undergo cesarean section for their delivery.
After embolization, young patients who pursue fertility have a very good success rate. One third of these women under the age of 40 who came to the Fibroid Treatment Collective (FTC) in Los Angeles, went on to conceive and deliver children. This corresponds to other studies in the US, Canada and Europe. We offer some women with extremely large fibroids (above the belly button) a combination procedure.
To help women understand the non surgical embolization procedure, the FTC created “10 Things Women Should Know About Fibroid Embolization.” These are:
1. It’s safe and effective. An estimated one million women worldwide have been successfully treated.
2. It’s simple. Most procedures take about half an hour.
3. It’s cost effective. No lengthy hospital stays or fees that come with them.
4. Symptom relief is immediate. Heavy bleeding, anemia and fatigue end with embolization.
5. No hospital stay. This is an outpatient treatment.
6. No cutting. With embolization there are no scalpels, sutures or scarring.
7. No ‘going under.’ You won’t be unconscious or exposed to the risks of general anesthesia.
8. Less down time. Most patients return to work in a matter of days.
9. No recurrence. Fibroids don’t return, as they often do with surgeries like myomectomy.
10. Keep your fertility. There’s no trauma to, or removal of, the uterus.
Women interested in learning more can join a live chat Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST at http://www.fibroids.com. For more information about fibroids, visit http://www.fibroids.com or call 866.362.6463; email firstname.lastname@example.org;
Bruce McLucas, M.D. is a Los Angeles based obstetrician-gynecologist who practices at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center.